Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 9 (1894)


Ms 24b, 1894

Testimony Concerning Idleness

Per Ardua, Williams St., Granville, New South Wales, Australia

April 30, 1894

Portions of this manuscript are published in AH 317; CG 88, 110-111, 345, 355; 6MR 47.

“Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” [Romans 12:11.] There is but one remedy for indolence, and that is to throw off sluggishness as a sin that leads to perdition, and go to work using the physical ability that God has given you for this purpose. The only cure for a useless, inefficient life is effort, determined, persevering effort. The only cure for selfishness is to deny self, and work earnestly to be the blessing that you can be to your fellow men. “He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.” [Ecclesiastes 11:4.] 9LtMs, Ms 24b, 1894, par. 1

As God’s human agents we are to do the work that He has given us. To every man He has given his work and we are not to give ourselves up to conjectures as to whether or not our honest endeavors will prove successful. All that we as individuals are responsible for, is the unwearied, conscientious discharge of duty that someone must do, and if we fail to do that which is placed in our way, we cannot be excused of God. Having done the best we can, then we are to leave all results with God; but it is required of us that we exercise more mental and spiritual power. 9LtMs, Ms 24b, 1894, par. 2

It is your duty, and it has been your duty every day of the life that God has graciously granted you, to pull at the oars of duty, for you are a responsible agent of God. 9LtMs, Ms 24b, 1894, par. 3

The command to you is, “Go work today in my vineyard.” [Matthew 21:28.] We are all God’s workmen, and not one is to be idle, but the only member of your body that you put into actual active use is your tongue and that often does not glorify God. For years you have been an unprofitable servant, and you have left others to do the very work that the Lord has laid upon you. Your example to your children has robbed them of valuable experience. God is displeased with you. He has given to every man his work. What work have you accepted that will be a blessing to humanity, and to your own household? Things are left to drift in the family, and if the members of your household manifest cleverness, you consider that a virtue above everything. 9LtMs, Ms 24b, 1894, par. 4

But I would ask, What are you doing for the Master, in order that you may hear His words of approval, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things”? [Matthew 25:21.] God never makes a mistake; He will never call men good and faithful who are not good and faithful. Are you doing to the utmost of your ability to meet your responsibilities before God? Or, do you cherish the false ideas which prevail with so many that idleness makes and keeps a man a gentleman? What are you doing in order that your children shall receive an education in all the duties of domestic life? What are you doing that they may be instructed in the Scriptures, and that they may obtain such a school education that they shall be qualified to be missionaries for God? What are you doing in this matter? You should be doing honest work. 9LtMs, Ms 24b, 1894, par. 5

Those who appreciate the value of souls for whom Christ has died, have felt burdened over your case, because you carry so little burden for your children. Were you as diligent in employing your moments as you should be in using the talents that God has given you, you would have honestly earned wages with which you could send your children to school. I have been an invalid all my life, yet God has heard my prayer for strength to do the work which somebody must do. I have not been able to sleep since half past one this morning. Your family have been presented before me as greatly in need of discipline and education, in order that they may put forth well-directed efforts, and make a success of life. 9LtMs, Ms 24b, 1894, par. 6

From the light given me of God you are not doing your duty in your home life. Self and selfish ease are robbing your children of the blessings which they should receive. Had you put to use the powers given you of God, both yourself and your children would have reached a higher standard in knowledge and efficiency. Your ideas are perverted. By the course of action you have pursued, you give the impression to your children that useful labor and intelligent knowledge, by which they may sustain themselves, are contrary to the maxims and customs of your people. Therefore the result is indolence, deficiencies, want of order and thoroughness, and lack of discipline of mind. 9LtMs, Ms 24b, 1894, par. 7

You are spoiling the life and character of your children, and the Lord is not pleased with your course of action in throwing off responsibility and taking things easy. We would not urge that anyone be so absorbed in work as to impair physical strength, and to be so overworked as to be disqualified for religious duties. But I can say from the light given me of God that to every man, woman, and child, the Lord has given some work. 9LtMs, Ms 24b, 1894, par. 8

We cannot be idlers. Will the Lord be pleased to have some of His agents straining every nerve and muscle, to make themselves secure against want, and yet to have something to render back to God, and have others living in idleness and luxury? What use have you made of your God-given time? Even if you have competency, you have need to put to use your abilities, in order that you may earn means to educate and train your children, so that they shall be able to reach the highest standard of efficiency. This work is a work that devolves upon all parents. 9LtMs, Ms 24b, 1894, par. 9

The idea prevails with some that it is a sort of degradation for their children to learn how to do different kinds of work with the idea that they shall be self-sustaining. Some imagine that to work for their living is to lose caste. The Lord made Adam and Eve, and placed them in the garden of Eden, to dress the garden and to keep it for the Lord. It was for their happiness to have some employment, or else the Lord would not have appointed them their work. 9LtMs, Ms 24b, 1894, par. 10

From the pillar of cloud Jesus gave directions through Moses to the Hebrews that they should educate their children to work, that they should teach them trades, and that none should be idle. Besides teaching them manual labor, they were to instruct their children to keep the statutes and the commandments of the Lord. Strict orders were given to the whole encampment of Israel to observe order and cleanliness. Our God is a God of order. Untidiness of dress, slack, loose, disorderly habits, are an offense to God. The Lord is not pleased with disorder. Every family is required to be trained in habits of neatness, cleanliness, and thoroughness. We who profess to believe the truth must make manifest to the world that the principles of truth and righteousness do not make people coarse, rough, untidy and disorderly. 9LtMs, Ms 24b, 1894, par. 11

Let the world see that the influence of the truth has a transforming power upon the entire life. The Christian should set a godly example and by precept and practice make manifest that industrious habits are essential to a profession of Christianity. Love for God will be expressed in the family by love for our children. Genuine love will not let them drift into slackness, and untidiness, because this is the easiest way, but from the pure example set before them by the parents, by the loving but inflexible firmness in cultivating industrious habits, they will educate their children after the same order. 9LtMs, Ms 24b, 1894, par. 12

Fathers and mothers have a solemn duty resting upon them to maintain dignity in their home life. They are not to relax principles, and recognize no higher law than the inclination of their children. The family institution is a divine ordinance, and parents are to be teachers of good things. The family is a preparatory school for educating, disciplining, and training the household in habits of order, that they may be qualified to do useful work for the comfort one of another, and be fitted up for the higher school above. The hours that are spent in levity, in unimportant chit-chat, are worse than wasted. What soul is helped by this kind of conversation? The time used in this manner is God’s time, and is granted to each one that it may be improved to His name’s glory by developing characters that will be a blessing to all around. 9LtMs, Ms 24b, 1894, par. 13

The father of the household represents the divine Lawgiver whom God has made His vicegerent in his family to carry out upright principles, as did Abraham, keeping heaven continually in view, and doing his work after the divine order for time and for eternity. Fathers and mothers have a work to do in the family that they do not appreciate. God has given them their Bibles to instruct them as to how they should work for their children, and they will not be excusable, if they do according to their own will, according to their own temperament, and leave the defective characters upon their children, for in so doing they perpetuate false theories, wrong habits, and perverse characters. 9LtMs, Ms 24b, 1894, par. 14

God requires that parents shall be continual learners, and in training their families after the divine order, everything depends upon their learning from the Bible those divine principles, which tend to the proper religious development of themselves and their children. Lessons on obedience, on respect for authority, need to be often repeated. This kind of work done in the family will be a power for good, and not only will the children be restrained from evil, and constrained to love truth and righteousness, but parents will be equally benefited. This kind of work which the Lord requires cannot be done without much serious contemplation on their part, and much study of the Word of God, in order that they may instruct according to His directions. 9LtMs, Ms 24b, 1894, par. 15

Family religion consists in bringing up the children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Every one in the family is to be nourished by the lessons of Christ, and the interest of each soul is to be strictly guarded, in order that Satan shall not deceive and allure away from Christ. This is the standard every family should aim to reach, and they should determine not to fail or to be discouraged. When parents are diligent and vigilant in their instruction, and train their children with an eye single to the glory of God, they co-operate with God, and God co-operates with them in the saving of the souls of the children for whom Christ has died. 9LtMs, Ms 24b, 1894, par. 16

The Lord is dishonored in Christian homes, where special importance is not attached to family discipline and training, where children are not restrained from bad tendencies and bad tempers. The Lord loves the children in every family, from the eldest to the youngest. They are the heritage of the Lord and are to be kindly, patiently instructed, and led step by step to Jesus Christ, to love and fear and honor God. Let parents be assured that the Lord will work with every effort that is made by them along these lines. 9LtMs, Ms 24b, 1894, par. 17